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28-04-1923

Wembley Stadium Opens

Pitch Perfect

Why is turf always hallowed? You don’t get too many other hallowed things. Scampi isn’t hallowed. Nor laminate wood flooring. Not even vestments. But if you happen to come across any form of turf, before too long, it will almost certainly be described as ‘hallowed’.

And no turf was hallowed-er than the hallowed turf of Wembley Stadium, which opened on this day in 1923 (and was then knocked down again in 2002 and replaced with the new one).Built for the British Empire Exhibition, the first football match that took place was the FA Cup final between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United.

For reasons that are unclear, the authorities thought that nobody would be that bovved by something as lame as a massive footballing occasion, so didn’t bother selling tickets. In the end, an insane 250,000 to 300,000 (nobody’s sure) people turned up, with many ending up sitting on the touchline. I don’t even want to think about the line for the toilets.